STORRS, Conn. (WTNH) — UConn students begin moving back onto campus Friday amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Along with some changes to the adjustments made to the campus, they will have to follow new safety protocols.
About 5,500 students will be moving into Storrs residence halls starting Friday morning and continuing through Monday, with around 265 others moving into Stamford student housing. At each campus, they’ve all received specific arrival times to help stagger the number of people in each building at any particular time.
While moving in, students can only have one person join them inside the buildings in moving items into their rooms. Of course, masks must be worn and physical distancing must be observed. Officials said UConn will provide two face coverings per student in each of their residence hall spaces.
Since UConn’s fall semester transitions fully to online coursework after Nov. 21, they’ve been advised to pack lightly in anticipation of moving out by then.
In a letter to students Tuesday morning, UConn President Tom Katsouleas announced changes to housing plans for out of state students as part of a plan to limit the population on campus due to COVID-19 concerns.
Katsouleas said that out-of-state students who are taking only online courses for the fall will NOT be allowed to live in on-campus housing for the semester.
The letter specified that this change does not apply to students who have any in-person elements to their coursework and program, including hybrids, working in research labs, training with teams, etc. It also does not apply to international students (who rely on visas and would struggle with online learning given international time zones) or students already residing on campus.
The letter from the president stressed how difficult, but necessary the decision was:
This was a very difficult and unwelcome decision to have to make. In making a choice between the options available to us, we were guided by what would produce the greatest public health benefit and the least academic disruption. I know that this change will be a great disappointment to the hundreds of out-of-state students who wished to return to campus. We are committed to providing you and all of our students with an exceptional learning experience and keeping you as connected to the UConn family as we can, regardless of where you are living. During this challenging time, we are guided by the advice of public health officials. While the prevalence of the disease is low in Connecticut, that is not the case in many other states. By asking our out-of-state students who don’t need to be here in person for their studies to stay home, we are aiming at preserving the extraordinary progress Connecticut has made in arresting the spread of the virus.Letter from UConn President Tom Katsouleas
UConn had previously announced that dorms would be limited to 70 percent capacity to allow for social distancing. Students are scheduled to arrive on campus on Friday, Aug. 14, which is just over two weeks before classes begin on Aug. 31. That plan will allow students to quarantine for 14 days prior to the beginning of class.
Some students said the changes have altered what they hoped their fall semester would be like.
“A roommate would have been nice,” one student said.
One of the major concerns is missing out on major college milestones like making friends.
“I was ready to make a lot of new friends,” a student said. “Now, it’s going to be harder to do that.”
“I’m a shy person so it’s difficult making friends, but since there’s less people I think it might be harder,” another added.
Late Friday night, university officials said, “Of the more than 2,000 COVID-19 tests already administered to UConn employees and students who will be regularly on the Storrs campus this fall, none have come back positive for the virus, new results show.”